United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will convene a “no-nonsense” climate ambition summit in September next year and warned on Monday that there will be “no room for back-sliders, greenwashers, blame-shifters” or a repackaging of old pledges.
In a wide-ranging news conference to close out 2022, Guterres also said that he “will not relent in the pursuit of peace in Ukraine in line with international law and the United Nations Charter.” A key principle of the founding U.N. Charter is respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
He is “not optimistic” about the possibility of effective Ukraine and Russia peace talks in the immediate future and believes the military confrontation will go on, but added that he “strongly hopes” there can be an end to the war in 2023.
In the meantime, Guterres said he would focus on increasing the efficiency of a U.N.-brokered deal that resumed Ukraine’s Black Sea food and fertilizer shipments, continue to try and restart the export of Russian ammonia via Ukraine and seek to accelerate the exchange of prisoners of war.
“We will go on trying to be useful, offering platforms of dialogue for these aspects to minimize suffering,” he said.
On Iran, Guterres slammed as “totally unacceptable” a crackdown by authorities on protests over the death of a young woman in custody and said “we are witnessing massive violations of human rights that we strongly condemn.”
‘GASPING FOR BREATH’
Guterres expressed concern about the fate of a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians and “what the next Israeli government might do in that regard.” Following a November election, Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is now forming what is likely to be one of the most hardline right-wing governments in the country’s history.
“It’s very important that the whole of the international community be very clear explaining to the government in Israel that there is no alternative to the two-state solution and that no unilateral actions should be taken putting into question the two-state solution,” he said.
Combating climate change has been a key priority for Guterres, who is one year into his second five-year term. He said he will keep pushing for a climate solidarity pact that would require big emitters to make an extra effort to reduce emissions this decade and ensure support for those who need it.
Countries are under pressure to ensure emissions are cut in half by 2030 and down to net-zero by 2050 – the only path to holding global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“The 1.5-degree goal is gasping for breath,” Guterres said. “I will convene a climate ambition summit in September 2023. I call on every leader to step up.”
“The invitation is open,” he said. “But there is a price of entry and the price of entry is non-negotiable – credible, serious and new climate action and nature-based solutions that will move the needle forward and respond to the urgency of the climate crisis.”